Friday, April 15, 2011

All Hail

I received a few text messages from DeKalb County and a cell phone call from an automated service from Sandy Springs warning me to take cover.  The DunwoodyTalk posse (and a couple of other kids on loan for a sleep-over) took cover in the DunwoodyTalk bunker.  Just returned from the St. Jude fish fry, we were all fed and enjoying a pleasant documentary on wild boars.  It seems as those pesky Russian hogs have been mating with our fine American hogs, and well,... you get the idea.  These hogs seem to be a problem in some areas, but no sightings near Dunwoody so sleep easy tonight (just keep an eye open for coyotes).

Anyway, back to the storm. A weird fog rolled in after the hail pummeled my broccoli.  I knew it was a good idea to not plant my garden boxes last week.
fog and an eerie glow on Spalding Drive

The illumination is courtesy of my Coast X21 Light Cannon.  It's a great light when you really need to bring 1000 lumens to the party.  At $400 it's a bit pricey, but as they say in the lighting business, 'go big or stay home'.  A Streamlight Ultra Stinger is a good back up light and comes with a car charger.

The dense fog and low light out yonder was a good opportunity to try out the PVS-14 NVD.  A new FLIR unit on order so the PVS-14 will be just fine for another week.

Hope everyone made it through the night okay.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dunwoody Lemonade Days 2011

Great weather and great people tonight at opening night for Lemonade Days.  Kids were out having fun as parents mingled.  Lemonade Days is the big fundraising event for the Dunwoody Preservation Trust (DPT).  Many of the DPT members are hard-core FarmHousers, an enjoyable group to be around. If nothing else, the FarmHousers keep it interesting in Dunwoody. They do some good work in the community.
Volunteers/Lemonade Days Staff

The DPT goal is more than the FarmHouse.  Visit their web site for more of their work.  Hats off to all the people volunteering this week at Brook Run for Lemonade Days, and hats off to the Carny crowd.  I really enjoy the carnival atmosphere.  Nothing better than roaming Carnies.  Eastern Europe has gypsies, the USA has Carnies.
Here's a replica of the FarmHouse that is up for raffle.  Tickets are $10.  The mini FarmHouse will be raffled after the Dunwoody July 4th parade.  If I win this hopefully the city will issue a permit for me.  I'll be renting this place out for kid tea parties, First Communion parties, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, etc.  I'll even install a couple of axles and wheels, hitch it to the Honda Odyssey, and cruise to the VB in Da Vil.
the model who posed for this mural (the lady at bottom left) will be in the Dunk Tank Friday at 8:30 PM
The Spider

Lots of food choices.  I usually buy food from the local groups instead of the Carnies.  I'm sure the Carny food is okay, just my choice.  The local food vendors covered a wide range:  BBQ, Chinese, Cajun, Mexican, and Traditional.  Even though I ate at Los Rancheros last night with the kids ($.99 tacos every Wednesday and $1.99 drafts) I opted for a couple of beef tacos.  A couple of kids under my watchful eye ate from Emma's while others in my posse opted for BBQ.  All good choices.  Expect to spend $6 or so per person for some grub.  No alcohol sold on site, so after your kids get dizzy drop them off at home and head to Village Burger for a couple of drafts and seasoned fries.  Once that Dunwoody Parkway project is complete the VB will be a hot spot for sitting on the patio drinking beers while your wife takes care of the kids.

Quite a variety of rides.  I saw stuff for the Pre-K crowd, and stuff that made the 8th graders scream.  One thing i noticed this year was lots of bench seating and lots of tables for eating.
Some games of chance are better than others, I guess.  I'm not big on the games of chance/luck.  Maybe your three year-old would enjoy pulling a $3 plastic duck out of the water for a 23¢ "prize", but I'll pass.  If your kid nags you to near death over a game, at least wait until the end of the night so you're not the fool carrying around an inflatable baseball bat for three hours.
A Yankee Hill Machine AR would tear this target up a bit

When you enter the Lemonade Days area of the park, make a right and go down to the end for the best rides. The most popular two rides are the Starship (aka The Gravitron) and the Himalaya. The Himalaya ride plays loud music.  Tonight I heard Top 40 followed by some Heavy Metal.  The guy running the ride is part DJ (on loan from the Oasis?), part Ride Operator, part Janitor, all Carny.  He kept things lively for sure.  I'm a people-watcher, and it's as enjoyable watching him as it is watching kids spin around the Himalaya.  I forgot the Flip video so you'll have to visit his part of the Universe to check it out. The dunk tank is down by the Himalaya ride so this area will be jam packed this weekend.

one of many benches
The Sea Ray going under a visual inspection prior to launch
DJ Himalya
Sea Ray
Janitor Himalaya.  Tip of the day: When riding the Himalaya, don't sit behind the girl who just ate a funnel cake, a bag of cotton candy, and drank two large lemonades

Like last year, Lemonade Days earns an A+ for family fun.  Take the kids this weekend and have some fun.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dunwoody Dunk Tank

Nancy Jester
UPDATE: Saturday Dunk Tank volunteers

Dunk Tank Saturday

1:00 - 1:30 Blake Tiede
1:30 - 2:00 Brent Morris
2:00 - 2:30 Chris Kacena
2:30 - 3:00 ELVIS (is everywhere)
3:00 - 3:30 Denny Shortal (City Council)
3:30 - 4:00 Alan Wilson (President of Kingsley Swim & Tennis)
4:00 - 4:30 Dave Lapoli
4:30 - 5:00 Rich Dolder
5:30 - 6:00 Joe Seconder (BRAD organizer)

The dunk tank lineup for Friday is looking good.  If the weather does not permit the dunk tank festival to proceed, check back here for an updated schedule.

Farmer Bob would probably be the biggest attraction at a Dunwoody Dunk Tank, but FB has declined because he has an ALTA doubles match Friday night. The next best option?  How about a DeKalb School Board member?  Well, you are in luck.  We checked to see who on the school board was a good swimmer, and we discovered local board rep Nancy Jester.  Yes, Friday evening is your chance to dunk Jester.  Parents from Vanderlyn, the new DES, Chesnut, Kingsley, Austin, Marist, OLA,and Westminster all are welcome.  Get in line early because this dunkee will be bringing in the crowd.  And King John, I'll take that $50 now. I prefer 50 singles.

The warm-up act to dunk Jester will be councilman Wittenstein.  Robert will be ushered to the dunk tank in his gold golf cart so stand back.  I think I'll be one of the first in line so Robert, bring your nose plug and a towel.


Here is the dunk tank schedule for Friday:
                                                       5:00 - 5:20 Robert Wittenstein (City Council)
                                                       5:20 - 5:40 John Heneghan (City Council)
                                              5:40 - 6:00 Nancy Jester (School Board)
                                              6:00 - 6:20 Doug Thompson (City Council)
                                              6:20 - 6:40 Danny Ross (City Council)

Possible dunk tank participants for Saturday include Chip (our cub reporter), TheOtherDunwoody blogger, Warren, Sharon, Brent, Lynn D, BonnieThePoliceGroupie, and GaryRayBetz

Lemonade Days Starts Thursday in FunWoody

Lemonade Days at Brook Run park runs this Thursday through Sunday.  If you have kids Thursday is the best day to attend Lemonade Days. But Thursday is a school day you say?  Forget about it.  School in DeKalb County really ends the Friday before Spring Break.  There are only three things left for kids to do the remaining weeks of school:

1. practice for the CRCT test
2. help teachers pack their rooms and do mindless worksheets
3. practice for the CRCT test

Here's a tip for you elementary school parents:  The CRCT is not the end-all of student evaluations.  However, that does not stop teachers from starting CRCT practice around October, seven months ahead of time.  Many teachers focus not on basic skills, but rather on filling in dots and practicing test-type questions.  Teach direct and indirect objects?  Nope, not on the test.  Teach how to address an envelope?  Nope, not on the test.  Teach when to use who/whom?  Doubtful.  You kids out there, make sure to keep practicing those CRCT skills, you never know when a future employee may ask you to choose the best of four answers then fill in a bubble with a sharp #2 graphite stick.

Sorry about that, let's get back to Lemonade Days.  Well, actually, let's wait a minute.  Am I the only person hoping today was the last 'walk to school' day?  I have no issue with WTSD except that it is something we have to force.  Kids are lured into walking to school (at least the final 50 feet to school) with promises of a Golden Shoe to display on a teacher's shelf, or maybe an ice cream party for highest participation.  Next year, thanks to sensible redistricting and the elimination of the Crawford Lewis 4th 5th Womack Road Academy, we'll see a more natural pattern of biking and walking to school.

How about a Golden Pencil for kids who showed up to school on a regular basis, learned what was taught without disturbing the other students in class, and peacefully obeyed the government's school's dress code while eating lunch in an assigned seat while not talking. A special Golden Toilet could also be awarded to the best trailer class.  The Golden Toilet winner is the class whose students were able to sit in a rental trailer all year while never walking indoors to use a toilet.  These kids were able to avoid drinking liquids every day of the school year so as to earn this award for their teacher.

I forgot this post was supposed to be positive and uplifting, so let's move on to Lemonade Days.

Again, Thursday is the night to attend Lemonade Days if you have kids age 11 and under.  The tween and teen crowd will insist on Friday or Saturday night.  But looks like rain Friday, so Saturday will be the big night as usual. Visit King John's Blog for coupons


Last year on this blog we discussed the possibility of a Dunk Tank, filled with local celebrities, for Lemonade Days.  This year, it's on like Donkey Kong.

Dunk Tank Line-Up Coming Soon.  Check Back later today

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hoegaardse bierbrouwer Pierre Celis (86) overleden

IT IS WITH A HEAVY HEART THAT I report that Pierre Celis - the "King of Belgian White Beer" and the founder of Hoegaarden and one of the first craft breweries in the early 1990s, the Celis Brewery in Austin, (which Miller Brewing Co. purchased and shuttered a few years afterward), passed away over the weekend in Hoegaarden of natural causes. He had been in declining health over the past years and his health declined quite rapidly over the past year. Pierre was 86. He'll be buried later this week in Hoegaarden.  In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you simply enjoy a beer with a moment of reflection for all that the beer business provides those of us who have a passion for it.  His daughter Christine sent an email that said, in part:  He was the best father everybody can wish for, great mentor and definitely he had an enormous amount of passion for beer."  He will be sorely missed.

Locally no official events have been planned, but those interested in buying a pitcher of cold Hoegaarden draft at Mellow Mushroom (fresh pizza, made with spring water) for me to share, let me know.  On a side note, perhaps this sad news will motivate the buyer at Dunwoody Tavern to step up and buy a keg of Hoegaarden.  

Hopefully the PubKing noted over at TheOtherDunwoody will live to drink beer until age 86

Tastykake in Georgia

My favorite sweets as a kid were made by Tastykake.  Tastykakes are one of the few good things to come out of Philadelphia, PA.

The chocolate cream-filled cupcakes (see above photo) were the favorite, followed by Butterscotch Krimpets.

The tastykake company has been purchased by Georgia bakery Flowers.  See the story at here (

From the article:
Flowers wants to sell Mrs. Freshley's sweet rolls, Nature's Own breads and other Flowers products "throughout Tasty's geographic footprint" in the mid-Atlantic states, and "will require additional acquisitions to add needed production capacity" to make that happen. Flowers also said it will offer Tastykakes down South.

Currently you'll find a small sampling of Tastykakes at Publix.  Hopefully soon we'll see Tastykake racks throughout Dunwoody. 

Since we are giving a plug to Tastykakes, I''ll also mention Boyer Candies.  The Mallow Cup is an all-time favorite of mine. These are hard to find in Georgia, and I've never seen one in Dunwoody.  

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dunwoody Reporter Column

Here's my column in this week's Dunwoody Reporter:

A Dunwoody View: One school superintendent not enough for DeKalb schools

By Rick Callihan

Later this year, we’ll have at least one new face at DeKalb County School meetings as the current school board is soon to decide on a new superintendent. But, come next year, will the school board be smaller?

This week, our state lawmakers may shrink DeKalb’s school board from nine to seven members. If the school board does get reduced by two members, the Dunwoody cluster will have less representation than it does today.

The Dunwoody area is represented by our District 1 representative (Nancy Jester) and a super-district representative (Pamela Speaks), accounting for two of nine members. By reducing the board to seven members, Dunwoody has one voice among seven.

Reducing the board by two members will not increase student learning and will not change nepotism at the central office. Voters in DeKalb had the opportunity to make changes to the school board makeup last November, but reelected controversial board members back to office by large majorities. If legislators want to truly improve school boards, they’ll need to include some sort of qualifications to hold the office.

For those seeking improvement in the leadership at DeKalb schools, hope only lies in the choice of a new superintendent. The school board has narrowed its search to three candidates, and a new superintendent could be named as soon as this week. But for real change, I think we need more than just one new superintendent. We need an overhaul of the school system’s organizational structure.
A new superintendent, a person from outside the district, is a good start, but perhaps the district needs three superintendents, all with different qualifications.

With 100,000 students, 15,000 employees and a budget of nearly $1.5 billion, the DeKalb school system needs more than a small-district superintendent from Illinois or Hickory, N.C.

To start, we need a Superintendent of Curriculum. The ideal candidate would come from outside DeKalb and have extensive experience in curriculum development, student assessment, and a track record of implementing successful programs for a variety of students. Students in DeKalb vary greatly in need, and the county school system needs to do its best to address the needs. Whether it’s vocational schools, college prep programs or virtual classrooms, DeKalb’s new Superintendent of Curriculum would have a professional staff to review what’s needed. I’d first suggest a change to teaching math in traditional fashion.

Superintendent No. 2 would be in charge of personnel and internal affairs, including a bloated central office. The first task is a desk-to-desk review of every position at the ‘palace,’ also known as the Administrative and Instructional Complex, in Stone Mountain.
It’s no secret that nepotism is the rule of the land when it comes to the DeKalb school system. Positions are filled not necessarily with the best candidates, but rather by relatives and friends. Superintendent No. 2 would also be charged with evaluating and, as necessary, removing ineffective employees. Is this really a full-time permanent job? Perhaps not permanent, but it’s a task that could take a couple of years to complete.
Finally, we have Superintendent No. 3. This person would be responsible for all financial matters.
From establishing central office salaries to fixating on spending per student costs, the Superintendent of Finance would be hailed as a hero of the taxpayers. The school district cannot afford to fight $100 million lawsuits and pay millions of dollars in legal fees. That money is needed for teacher pay, classroom supplies, and school repairs. By having a dedicated superintendent overseeing how taxpayer money is spent (and how the system can fully take advantage of the state’s funding system), perhaps we can avoid future lawsuits and fraud while earning the voters’ trust.
Of course the cost for three superintendents would be three times the cost of one, but managing the school system well would pay dividends many times over. Although I doubt the current school board would entertain the idea of hiring not one but three superintendents, I hope the board will select a person for superintendent who will not only do what is right for DeKalb taxpayers, but what is also right for DeKalb students.